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March 7, 2001
2:02 PM   Subscribe

Young people today are not just getting their hands on guns and killing people, but are using any means necessary, including cars. Let's outlaw all dangerous items so that crazy kids can't do anybody any harm!
posted by OneBallJay (50 comments total)

 
/sarcasm

Note that although this guy killed more people than that kid in San Diego and is only three years older, news of his attack didn't interrupt any network programming or get anyone on Good Morning America. And he didn't have to break any laws to get his hands on the deadly weapon.
posted by OneBallJay at 2:02 PM on March 7, 2001


If you look back at the incidents where a "loner," white, perhaps bullied young kid went on a gun rampage, that same kid seem unlikely to use a car to accomplish his "goals," so that to suggest that any potential weapon ought to be kept away from an 18-year-old simply does not make sense. When I was that age, I had a rifle, had fired machine guns, used a bazooka. But that was in the U.S. Army. Do we raise the age for serving in our military?
posted by Postroad at 2:10 PM on March 7, 2001


Oh great, another gun control thread on Metafilter.

Also: Hooray! More poor logic!
posted by jbeaumont at 2:11 PM on March 7, 2001


This Penny Arcade news post mentioned one of the guys killed. It's the last paragraph. Funny how you seem more connected with the victim when you realize that you both enjoyed some of the same things.
posted by pnevares at 2:22 PM on March 7, 2001


(Score:2, Mendacious)

Comic strips for increased empathy? Bless you, Internet!
posted by jon at 2:32 PM on March 7, 2001


Oh great, another gun control thread on Metafilter.

Oh great, someone else with nothing to add but sarcasm.
posted by jpoulos at 2:55 PM on March 7, 2001


People acquire guns because they want the power of life and death over those around them. That's not why people acquire cars.

The power of life and death is about as close to absolute power as most of us can get. Remember the aphorism about "absolute power corrupts absolutely"?
posted by hal_55 at 3:23 PM on March 7, 2001


I hope that postroad and jbeaumont didn't take me seriously. I don't honestly think that we should outlaw cars. Of course, I don't honestly think we should outlaw guns, or household poisons, or sticks, or rocks, or any other potential weapon either. I was pointing out that news of 'kids killing people' only appeals to the popular media when guns are involved, and this story somehow slipped through the cracks for whatever reason, despite the age of the killer. Does that make the media anti-gun? I think so, but you can draw your own conclusions.

And while you can argue that 18 isn't a kid, which I agree with, it seems funny that the age range for 'kids killed by guns' statistics that are trotted out by most anti-gun groups goes up to 19.
posted by OneBallJay at 3:27 PM on March 7, 2001


Hal_55,

How many guns have you acquired? How can you determine my motives for buying mine? For me, it's definitely not for having the power of life or death over those around me, as if I walk around thinking "you don't matter - I could kill you if I want to."

I bought a rifle when I was 18 because I was curious what shooting one was like. I enjoyed shooting at the range, so I bought a handgun as well. A side benefit is that I'm better equipped if someone with the mindset you're talking about wants to exercise that power over me.
posted by OneBallJay at 3:39 PM on March 7, 2001


We're not talking about my feelings; we're talking about yours. Because you're the one with the gun. That makes *you* the threat to the people around, not me. So justify your possession of your power, instead of attacking me.

Peoples' motives are betrayed by their actions. Many people with guns use them to kill (just read the statistics) and to intimidate. I've noticed that gun-owners generally like to advertize their power--isn't that what the NRA is all about?

And by the way; why is it that the same conservatives who assert that possessing pornography sometimes (often?) inspires rape, won't admit that possessing a gun sometimes (often?) inspires murder?

Hal
posted by hal_55 at 3:52 PM on March 7, 2001


I'm not attacking you. Your statement made what are obviously your own personal feelings look like a known and acknowledged fact. I'm disagreeing with your interpretation of the world of gun owners. Are you a psychologist? How do you know what goes on in the minds of people who buy guns? Do you conduct exit polls at firearm stores and conventions?

I offered an explanation of my motives. I don't need to justify my ownership of guns to you, the founding fathers of this country did it for me.

I don't carry my guns around with me. They're locked under my bed at home. I could still be a threat to others without them, if I chose to be. The point of the original post is that people are threats to those around them, guns or no.

What statistics are you talking about? Show some. I'd be interested to see what percentage of legal gun owners have killed or even shot at a human being with their guns.

As for gun owners advertising their power, yes some certainly do. I don't. I'm a member of the NRA, but I don't think anyone outside my close circle of friends knows that, or that I even own guns (of course most MeFites do, but then again you have no idea who I am). The NRA is a political-action group. It's there to protect the rights of gun-owners, not to advertise to the world that there are armed people who could kill you at any moment.

Someone else will need to answer your last question. I don't consider myself a conservative. Anyways, welcome to the world of posting. I hope you didn't just come out of lurking to troll.
posted by OneBallJay at 4:17 PM on March 7, 2001


And I think a more appropriate translation of those assertions would be that viewers of pornography are more likely to rape, and viewers of killing (via tv, movies, video games, etc.) are more likely to kill. I'd agree with both those statements.
posted by OneBallJay at 6:00 PM on March 7, 2001


I guess I'm not sure what is constructive about this thread. I'm so close to giving up discussing these conservative/liberal topics with my friends out of frustration. Let alone on a site like MeFi.

Looking at other industrialized countries, how can one argue that there is not a link between easy availability of guns and violence.

It is such a weak weak argument to say that if there weren't guns around we would have just as much murder with other weapons like cars and golf clubs.

I understand that the second amendment would make it appear difficult to have the kind of gun control they have in England or Australia. But maybe it's time to change the second amendment so we can have some sanity, and maybe in a generation or two down the line we can have a less violence, gun obsessed country.
posted by chrismc at 6:02 PM on March 7, 2001


Anyways, welcome to the world of posting. I hope you didn't just come out of lurking to troll.

I'm sorry accountingboy, but I'm going to call "bullshit" on this one; someone could just have easily said that the statement, "Let's outlaw all dangerous items so that crazy kids can't do anybody any harm!" was trolling. You were using a rhetorical device, and so was Hall_55.

It's too damn easy to use the "troll" accusation to shut someone else up, and I hope that you didn't do that just because you disagreed with him (thus negating your original statement that you were not attacking him personally).
posted by Avogadro at 7:55 PM on March 7, 2001


sorry, that's Hal_55.
posted by Avogadro at 7:56 PM on March 7, 2001


This is creepy - that guy who killed those pedestrians with his car looks like my ex-husband.
posted by beth at 10:00 PM on March 7, 2001


Gun control is a very different issue from outlawing cars. First of all, gun control isn't just about banning guns, it's also about inserting some accountability into the distribution system. As it stands now, any asshole or maniac can buy a gun. And a lot of them put their guns to lethal effect.

Also, cars are different from guns in that cars are "dual-purpose." They can kill people, but they also facilitate getting about. Guns serve no other purpose than to kill.

Furthermore, this killer's profile doesn't match the other high school killers profile. Clearly, they all suffer from some form of insanity. But in this case the killer appears to be outright delusional. The Columbine kids and this week's other shooter appear to have a better grasp on reality. They might not have killed (or killed so many) if they didn't have easy access to firearms.
posted by Loudmax at 2:58 AM on March 8, 2001


Sorry all, I'm working too hard (8 to 8, then home for dinner and bed, then up again to do it all again), I'm irritable, and a fresh look at what I said yesterday makes me realize how silly I sounded accusing Hal_55 of trolling. Yes, I'm probably subject to the same criticism for my post (which I wouldn't have posted if I had to do it all over again).

But still, I think the point is valid. If people want to kill others, they'll be able to do it without guns. I'm very surprised we haven't had any poisonings at schools - "Mysterious Deaths at School Linked to Poison" or something to that effect.

Rat poison, too, has no purpose other than to kill. It's even less personal to kill with poison than it is to kill with guns because you don't have to see the effects of it. We haven't outlawed that yet. Or did you mean killing humans? Hunters don't (or at least try not to) kill anything but the game they're chasing. Guns do serve other purposes than to kill. I've used mine for years now, and I've yet to kill anyone or anything. I just enjoy the sport of shooting (I don't even use those silhouette targets because they make me uneasy).

As it stands now, any asshole or maniac can buy a gun. And a lot of them put their guns to lethal effect.

This is the same argument Hal_55 was making. On a separate thread on MeFi, someone stated that 48% of those who voted owned guns. We have a high murder/death/kill rate in this country, but nowhere near as high as if "many" or "a lot" of these people use their guns "to kill" or "to lethal effect." The laws on the books in this country prohibit anyone who has been convicted of a felony or committed into a mental health institution from purchasing a firearm. And as far as I know, being an "asshole" is not a felony. We may not enjoy such people, but I wouldn't want my rights encroached on because "assholes" have the same rights.

And as for gun control lowering rates of violent crime, have a look at some statistics and opinions of others and others. To me, that doesn't seem to be a valid argument.
posted by OneBallJay at 9:00 AM on March 8, 2001


Very convenient to only include the US in those statistics...
posted by DiplomaticImmunity at 10:22 AM on March 8, 2001


Read the second fact they eliminated, and their reasons for eliminating it. I didn't want to link to an NRA website because their points of view are often unbalanced, but there's one here that discusses foreign countries as well. I'm really not a gun nut, I swear, but I am very interested in why people think guns are inherently evil.
posted by OneBallJay at 10:49 AM on March 8, 2001


I looked at those stats, 10,000 gun murders in the U.S. a year. What is it in England, like 50. And some people think the answer is actually more guns.


posted by chrismc at 11:00 AM on March 8, 2001


I really have to read a Jefferson biography one day soon.
posted by thirteen at 11:00 AM on March 8, 2001


Paul Craig Roberts made some valid points about all this:

Britain has the most severe "gun control" laws in the world. Not even members of the British Olympic Shooting Team are allowed pistols. The British are reduced to registered single- and double-barreled shotguns, and the maximum permitted shell load is birdshot.

According to the arguments of gun-control advocates, Britain should be safe and crime free. But, alas, violent crime and robberies have skyrocketed. Gunfights between rival immigrant gangs caused the revolution in British policing. In Robin Hood's Nottinghamshire, constables now patrol in pairs armed with semi-automatic pistols. They are backed up by armed-response vehicles (ARVs) stocked with submachine guns.

If gun control makes society safe, why was it necessary to overthrow British police tradition, arm police with semiautomatic weapons and provide machinegun backup? As a test case in gun control, Britain proves it to be a total failure. The result is exactly the one predicted by the National Rifle Association: "When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns."

posted by frednorman at 11:09 AM on March 8, 2001


Guns serve no other purpose than to kill.

This is a common misconception. The vast majority of legally-owned guns are never used to kill anyone. (This might even hold true when you also consider illegally-owned firearms, but I'd have to check that and don't have time right now.) If killing is their "purpose," then I'd say guns are actually pretty ineffective at doing what they're "intended" to do.

Outside of the spheres of hunting and warfare, guns' most common function is to allow their owners to make credible threats of lethal force. The gun does not need to be fired (or even, in some cases, seen) to perform this function, as long as it could exist and could be fired. I'd wager that criminals, police officers, and gun-owning citizens alike use guns in this fashion far more frequently than they use them to actually kill anyone.

I'll be the first to agree that the world would be much nicer if people didn't sometimes need ways to make credible threats of lethal force, but unfortunately we sometimes do.
posted by kindall at 1:09 PM on March 8, 2001


To accountingboy and Kindall:

>>> Are you a psychologist? How do you know
>>> what goes on in the minds of people who buy guns? Do you conduct exit polls at
>>> firearm stores and conventions?

I read NRA magazines and listen to their speakers and go to their shows. I go to meetings and argue with Libertarians (yeuch). I've met and talked to an awful lot of gun-nuts face-to-face over the years. I know you guys real, real well. Some day I may I may write a book about you.

>>> I bought a rifle when I was 18 because I was curious what shooting one was
>>> like. I enjoyed shooting at the range, so I bought a handgun as well.

Your point being that your guns were childhood/adolescent playthings, used for pleasure. But how many other of your childhood/adolescent toys do you retain? Not many, if any--and the reason is that the guns offer a power trip that your other toys didn't. Power is what gun ownership is all about.

>>> I offered an explanation of my motives.

Yes. You said: "A side benefit is that I'm better equipped if someone with the mindset you're talking about wants to exercise that power over me." In other words, you want to be able to kill first. My point exactly.

>>> I don't need to justify my ownership of guns
>>> to you, the founding fathers of this country did it for me.

...and we'll conveniently forget about the "well-regulated militia"... Who regulates you? Only someone with a bigger gun. More power.

>>> I don't carry my guns around with me. They're locked under my bed at home. I could
>>> still be a threat to others without them, if I chose to be. The point of the original
>>> post is that people are threats to those around them, guns or no.

You're deliberately missing the point--and it's this inane, cynical, dishonest attempt to weasel out of the issue, heard so many times over the years, that causes me to have so little respect for you guys. Obviously you can kill people with, say, a plastic bag. Repeat after me until it sinks in: guns make it trivial, effortless, to kill people--so trivial that even a child can do it! That's what makes them so very different from all the other things that can be used as weapons. Ownership of a plastic bag does not give you power. Ownership of a gun does.

>>> What statistics are you talking about? Show some. I'd be interested to see what
>>> percentage of legal gun owners have killed or even shot at a human being with their
>>> guns.

Others in this thread have addressed the numbers, so I'll pass. But what the hell do statistics about "legal" gun owners have to do with this? Our problem is gun owners, period. Law-abiding "legal" gun-owners add to the problem by helping to maintain the status quo.

>>> The NRA is a political-action group. It's there to protect the
>>> rights of gun-owners, not to advertise to the world that there are armed people who
>>> could kill you at any moment.

Which I suppose explains why NRA members love bumper-stickers with threatening language... And why anti-gun campaigners get death-threats.

>>> I just enjoy the sport of shooting (I don't even use those silhouette targets
>>> because they make me uneasy).

Good for you. So try paintball.

>>> The laws on the
>>> books in this country prohibit anyone who has been convicted of a felony or
>>> committed into a mental health institution from purchasing a firearm. And as far as I
>>> know, being an "asshole" is not a felony. We may not enjoy such people, but I
>>> wouldn't want my rights encroached on because "assholes" have the same rights.

Because of the NRA and their ilk (proudly empowering the deluded and deranged for x number of years) guns are now so common that anyone--including schoolchildren--can easily acquire them. So don't hide behind "the laws on the book." And I don't recall the Constitution saying that you have the right of the arbitrary power of life and death over the folks around you--remember that inconvenient language about the "well-regulated militia?"

>>> Outside of the spheres of hunting and warfare, guns' most common function is to
>>> allow their owners to make credible threats of lethal force. The gun does not need to
>>> be fired (or even, in some cases, seen) to perform this function, as long as it could
>>> exist and could be fired. I'd wager that criminals, police officers, and gun-owning
>>> citizens alike use guns in this fashion far more frequently than they use them to
>>> actually kill anyone.

My point exactly. It's a power trip. Ownership of a gun sends a message to those around you (family, friends, co-workers) that you hold their lives in your hands. And even if you don't tell them, *you* know that you hold that power over them. Your gun is your psychological crutch. That's what gun-ownership in 21st-century America is really all about.

Are you man enough to part with your crutch?

Hal_55

posted by hal_55 at 6:03 PM on March 8, 2001


uh.... never mind....
posted by Avogadro at 7:45 PM on March 8, 2001


I've never quite understood-- and this obviously isn't an issue in this medium-- why somebody who would claim that most or all gun-owners are basically power-tripping lunatics would claim this in a face-to-face argument with a gun-owner.

So, really, I killed him just to clean up the genepool.
posted by fable at 8:29 PM on March 8, 2001


My point exactly. It's a power trip. Ownership of a gun sends a message to those around you (family, friends, co-workers) that you hold their lives in your hands. And even if you don't tell them, *you* know that you hold that power over them. Your gun is your psychological crutch. That's what gun-ownership in 21st-century America is really all about.

Yeah, I guess you're right. If I bought a gun, it would be primarily so I could lord the power of life and death over people I care about, not to protect them and myself from people who already hold that same power. How could I ever have been so blind?
posted by kindall at 9:09 PM on March 8, 2001


To Kindall:

What else could you possibly say? Because if by some remote chance it were really true, would you admit it to anyone? To your loved ones? To us? The answer is obviously no. In that case, what makes your denial credible?
posted by hal_55 at 9:22 PM on March 8, 2001


In that case, what makes your denial credible?

Tell me, Hal, have you stopped beating your wife yet?
posted by kindall at 11:29 PM on March 8, 2001


And not to worry, Hal, I'll tell you when your denial of being a wife-beater is credible enough for me. Because, I'm sure, if you really were a wife-beater, you'd deny it just as vehemently as if you weren't. So make it a good one.
posted by kindall at 11:40 PM on March 8, 2001


The standard irrelevant response. People's actions say something about their motives. Your action was to buy and own a gun, and then mouth off to try to make your acts look non-threatening. But nothing you *say* will make you less of a threat to the folks around you, because you still have the gun. What value will your non-threatening words be when you get drunk or lose your temper or get jealous? If you wanted to lessen the threat (which you don't, of course), you'd have to get rid of the gun.

You and are hardly on the same footing. Your gun makes you a threat to the people around you. I have no gun, I threaten nobody. Don't waste time playing semantic games with us; justify yourself. What gives you the right to threaten the people around you?

posted by hal_55 at 12:53 AM on March 9, 2001


While everyone has some reasonable arguments (along with some unreasonable attacks and faulty logic), but I still can't help but think this is a cultural issue. I grew up in a rural area in Coastal California, and most of the families around had guns-- they came in handy for scaring coyotes, for hunting, for protection (you're all alone out there pretty much) or just for shooting at cans or targets or skeet. No one was a member of the NRA, no one was a gun nut (well maybe one guy who eventually got busted for growing weed) and no one shot each other.

I noticed when I moved to the city if the topic ever came up, some people who had been raised in homes without guns (usually in City or Suburban areas) couldn't seem to get a handle on them as anything other than killing machines... this distortion I think is equally as misguided as the gun nut's mental marriage with his/her weapon.

So instead of getting into pointless discussions about what guns mean to various groups of society, why not discuss ways to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, and reasonable ways that we can do that without doing away with the 2nd Amendment.
posted by chaz at 1:21 AM on March 9, 2001


You and are hardly on the same footing. Your gun makes you a threat to the people around you.

Emotional inference supplied without argument.

I have no gun, I threaten nobody.

Prove it. Do you own any knives? Do you own a car? Do you have hands?

Don't waste time playing semantic games with us; justify yourself.

I don't know where you are, but in the US he need do no such thing. HE has the rights and need not justify himself to anybody. YOU need to justify why you're right and the Constitution and 200+ years of judicial rulings are so so wrong.

What gives you the right to threaten the people around you?What gives you the right to determine what is and is not threatening in this world? Or to stumble into MeFi out of nowhere and act so arrogantly and obnoxiously right out of the gate? Trolling isn't much liked around here.
posted by aaron at 2:54 AM on March 9, 2001



Man, I blotched that HTML, didn't I? Sorry to all.
posted by aaron at 2:55 AM on March 9, 2001


Apologies in advance to everyone for this mega-post. It came out a good bit longer than I wanted. But, like Pascal, I lack the time to make it shorter, and besides, I'd hate for it to be as "irrelevant" as my last response.

People's actions say something about their motives.. Your action was to buy and own a gun, and then mouth off to try to make your acts look non-threatening.

I did not actually say I own a gun. But let's assume for the sake of argument that I do, since I see nothing whatsoever wrong with owning one and have occasionally considered buying one, so morally speaking, I probably might as well even if I don't. (Note that I still haven't said I do or don't -- I could have considered it and bought one. I'm a tricky bastard that way.)

But nothing you *say* will make you less of a threat to the folks around you, because you still have the gun.

The gun is only a threat if it is used as such. Until it is "deployed," so to speak -- anything between being shown or mentioned with an implication that it might be used and being outright pointed at someone -- it is a piece of metal. My mere ownership of a gun does not threaten anyone; it does give me the capability to issue a pretty serious threat if I deem it necessary to do so, but capability is not the same as intent. My ownership of a gun does not say to anyone "Do what I say or I will shoot you" any more than my ownership of fists says "Do what I say or I will hit you." It says, "If you threaten me, I have the capability to answer your threat." It says, "If you threaten someone I love, I have a tool that could help me protect them and I might make use of it." Your interpretation of what my gun means is just that: your interpretation. It is in your mind, not in my gun.

What value will your non-threatening words be when you get drunk or lose your temper or get jealous?

What makes you think I will do any of those things? Do you think I have a violent temper? How many people do you suppose I've ever hit? (Answer: zero.) How many times do you think I've ever been drunk? (Answer: again, zero.) Jealous? Sure. Jealous enough to consider killing? Never. I have never shot anyone. I have never shot at anyone. I have never even pointed a gun at anyone. Nor have I had need to even mention the gun, or pump a shotgun, or in any other way reveal a weapon's existence as a deterrent to what I considered a threat. I have shot a gun at paper targets (and even hit some of them), which I'll agree is extremely threatening if you are a paper target.

In short, like most legal gun owners, I have never done anything that would make me a threat, with or without a gun in the picture. If you have any evidence to the contrary, I'd like to hear about it, as would the police I'm sure, but in the absence of evidence it is not reasonable to assume I'm any more inherently violent than you are.

If you wanted to lessen the threat (which you don't, of course), you'd have to get rid of the gun.

I have made no violent threats to anyone, ever, and I am not by nature a violent, careless, or irrational person. One can hardly get any less threatening than not at all!

You and [I] are hardly on the same footing.

Of course we are. You've accused a complete stranger of "being a threat" without knowing anything at all about him. You are essentially calling me a potential murderer even though I know I'm not, and the police around these parts seem to agree since they let me roam around free. I in return have made an equally nonsensical accusation (or implication, to be anal-retentive) about you. We have both asked each other to refute our separate ridiculous accusations. Seems pretty equal to me. I'm obliging; how 'bout you?

Your gun makes you a threat to the people around you.

Not if don't threaten anyone. My hypothetical gun does not turn me into a different person who threatens people at random. If anything, the fact that I have potentially lethal capability makes me even less likely to make threats because of the possibility I might have to carry through with them. Do you suppose I'd enjoy killing someone? I find the thought only slightly less repellent than being killed myself. Before I could bring myself to actually pull the trigger I'd have to be fairly well convinced that I would die if I didn't.

I have no gun, I threaten nobody.

The first is your choice, which I don't disparage, and I'm certainly glad to hear the second. I don't threaten people either. We have something in common.

Don't waste time playing semantic games with us; justify yourself.

Since I have not actually done anything other than (hypothetically) buy and own a weapon, there's really nothing to justify, is there? You're the one who has claimed I am a threat when in fact I have threatened no one at all; what is that if not a semantic game? If I am a threat with a gun, then I am also a threat (albeit a lesser one) without a gun, since I am taller, bigger, and stronger than most people. There are a good number of people I could probably kill with my bare hands, if that was what I wanted to do. But it is not, and I don't want to kill anyone with a gun either. However, if threatened, I will defend myself, up to and including killing someone if that is what is necessary, and I reserve the right do it with any legal weapon I have at my disposal, again as I deem necessary.

What gives you the right to threaten the people around you?

If someone were to threaten me or someone I cared about, I would feel justified in returning the threat. There are other circumstances in which a threat of various severity might conceivably be justified, but those are subject to somewhat more debate than self-defense. Maybe we can debate the range of possible situations that would justify the threat of deadly force at some later date.

Most legal gun owners hope they never have need to even point a weapon at another person. People who own guns don't walk around waiting for people to piss them off so they can whip out the gun and make like John Wayne. The point of owning a gun is, as I said, to allow you to make a credible threat of lethal force if you need to. Not if you feel like it.

The lethal force need not actually be applied after the threat is made. You need not even have live ammunition in your weapon. Hell, in some circumstances you need not even have the gun itself -- though I wouldn't want to bet my life on a bluff. The possibility that you have the capability and will use it if necessary is often enough to counter threats.

Of course, I'm sure you'll dismiss this as an elaborate rationalization. You have already made up your mind that merely owning a gun is enough to make me a threat to everyone around me -- in other words, you don't trust me. Fair enough, I guess. Your mistrust is yours, though; it does not come from my actions. I have never acted in a manner that suggests in any way that I am not capable of safely and responsibly owning a gun. Neither have millions of other legal gun owners. I know if I fuck up I could easily regret it for the rest of my life, which is a pretty damn strong deterrent in itself, not to mention the possibility of being sent to jail or losing my right to own a weapon. I have many incentives to be careful beyond basic common sense, if I need them.

Of course, you said that the chance I am using a gun as a "psychological crutch" and that I "hold [people's] lives in my hands" is "remote." So, you see, you already knew you have nothing to worry about. You just didn't know you knew.
posted by kindall at 3:13 AM on March 9, 2001


aaron, he's not trolling at all. just because he disagrees strongly with you does not mean he's trolling. sounds like he's angry about guns, which a lot of people are. a lot of people have died from guns, and a lot of their relatives are angry about it. i don't presume to take guesses at his background, but it seems awfully mean to call him a troll if this is the case. even if it's not, he's entitled to his anger until he becomes outright abusive or actually, you know, starts trolling.

personally, guns scare the hell out of me. i hate seeing guns. i hate hearing guns. i hate hearing about guns. and say what you will about what YOU use it for, i can think of no other use for a gun than to kill or threaten. i'm not saying you're going to kill with it, but tell me what else you're going to use it for (protection? in order for it to be effective, you have to threaten the intruder or kill them/injure them. yes, they threatened you first. but that doesn't change what you can use it for). there's nothing wrong with protecting your family. but to misconstrue that as a non-threatening or non-killing use of a gun is misleading.

i personally fall on the same side of the argument as hal_55 (surprised?) but i acknowledge that the constitution disagrees. the thing i can't wrap my mind around is how anyone with children could own a gun. yes, you can protect your family, but statistics say very clearly that you are more likely to kill someone in your own family (or your child is, or vision-impaired grandpa is) than you are to kill an intruder. i'm very curious how someone could justify to themselves owning a gun around a child. even if you lock it up, even if you have the bullets in a different place than the gun, even if you keep the safety on, that child could possibly get into that gun and could possibly kill himself or another child with it. yes, the same is true of rat poison or other such things. but at least rat poison serves another purpose and you can throw it away once your rats are gone. knives kill people too, and kids can get into knives, but they know that there are other uses for knives. their absolute first thought isn't going to be "this is a knife, i can point it at people and stab them with it". in contrast, what do they know about guns? "i point it at people and it scares them, and if i shoot it, it hurts them".

i personally think having guns in a home with children is unconscionable. of course, it's not my conscience at stake. just as you say there are other ways to kill people, aren't there other ways to protect your family? ways that don't end in so many tragic deaths of family members?
posted by pikachulolita at 4:04 AM on March 9, 2001


The argument that people will kill whether or not they have access to guns doesn't stand up. Hal_55 put it right: guns make it so easy to kill, even kids can do it. If you're determined enough to kill somebody, you can kill with a plastic bag, but it's a heck of a lot harder. We wouldn't have nearly as many murders if they weren't so easy to commit.

It is true that the vast majority of gun owners don't kill anybody. They also, on average, don't get the oppurtunity to defend their families that often either. So what's the use of these guns? (I'd consent that hunting is a legitimate reason to own a gun, but most gun owners don't hunt. Anyway, one doesn't need to hunt with a handgun or a semi-automatic weapon.)

I'm not saying we should try to ban guns outright. My point is that guns are so widely available in America, it's impossible to keep them out of the hands of criminals and sosiopaths. The burden of proof should be on those wishing to buy a gun. They should have a legitimate reason, such as hunting or working in law-enforcement. Simply liking guns because they're fun to shoot isn't a valid reason for letting anyone buy one.
posted by Loudmax at 6:49 AM on March 9, 2001


Is there really nothing new to discuss? We all feel justified in judging what others should and should not have. You can't have a gun, you can't have an abortion, and you should not use that word. Trying to rid the world of guns will be just as hard as keeping people from trading MP3 files over a network.

Loudmax's last line is what prompted this post, but I am somewhat weirded out by the increasing regularity of these topics.
Simply liking guns because they're fun to shoot isn't a valid reason for letting anyone buy one.
Yes it is, unless you are inviting me to make similar blaise judgements about you. Just because you enjoy your computer doesn't mean you should be allowed to own one, just because you are under the impression that you need shoes, doesn't mean I agree–no shoes for you. Technology is never going to be more dangerous than people, and I hate the idea of limiting technology. I have shot guns (only at targets, and cannot ever imagine myself enjoying hunting), but I do not own any. My wife has some fear of guns, and I respect her wishes not to have them around. She has the right to ask such a thing of me, none of you others do.

Or maybe I am wrong, and we do have to much freedom. Let all get together, and lobby for fewer freedoms. I am sure our government would only be too happy to take them all away.
posted by thirteen at 9:17 AM on March 9, 2001


Good for you. So try paintball.

I can't believe someone who is anti-gun would ever dream of making a statement like this. It's absurd. Personally, I think that the sport of paintball is an abomination. It trains people to point a gun at people and pull the trigger. Talk about dehumanizing killing, paintball trains your reflexes so that whenever you see movement, you turn and spray projectiles in that direction. It's worse than tv and video games because you actually go through the motions - the aim, the trigger pull. There's a reason that the army plays 'games' like these - it's to train the body to kill before the mind can tell it to stop.

I have guns. I hope against all hope that I will never feel the need to use them on another human. If I do, I can't imagine how devastating it would be. But if the choice is between me or someone I love and someone who's intent on harming us, I'm going to choose me and mine.

And as for children and guns, we went through this before. The children that accidentally kill each other with guns are not the children of responsible gun owners. They are the children who either find a gun at a friend's house or find one at their own that they've not been told to expect. Guns are so prevalent in our society that I think parents who don't theach their kids about gun safety and how guns operate are doing their children a disservice, making it more likely that an accident will occur when they do find one. Ignoring the possibility that your children will find a gun because you want to believe they won't is how tragedies like this occur. Guns are out there, whether you like it or not. Just like drugs. We teach our kids about the dangers of drugs, but guns are often ignored. Why is this?

On another note, the gun arguments I see are often people pitting sterotype against stereotype. Gun owners in this thread have been assumed to fill the mold of the aggressive, white, Republican/Libertarian, male with bumperstickers (I'm the NRA and I Vote, Guns Don't Kill People - I Do, Protected By Smith & Wesson) on his Detriot-built 3/4 ton pickup that has a gun rack in the window. That is not the typical gun owner. That may be the gun owner that gets the most attention, but it is not the majority. I'm passive, white, more Green than anything else, male with no bumper stickers on my Mazda pickup. I'm as embarrassed by the gun owner above as most Democrats probably are by Bill Clinton's sexcapades.
posted by OneBallJay at 9:21 AM on March 9, 2001


My point is that guns are so widely available in America, it's impossible to keep them out of the hands of criminals and sosiopaths

How many criminals do you think actually go into a gun store or gun show and buy their weapons that way? Not very many, most get them off the black market. So how would outlawing guns, or making there be a waiting period, etc. stop those criminals? Not the people who get mad, buy a gun, and go in shooting up their workplaces, schools, etc. Those it may deter, though that's debatable. But the people whose career is to kill, rape, maim, rob and the like? How would outlawing guns stop them from killing with guns?

Regarding owning guns with children in the house:
My boyfriend grew up in a house full of guns, learning to shoot one when he was young, just as many other children were. My mother, who does not like guns and does not own one, grew up around them. She knew where they were kept, how to use them, and so on. She also knew what would happen should she use one. And she knew that if she touched them without permission, she would be in very big trouble. Responsible people teach their children what a gun can do, how to use one, when to use it and when not to, to be careful with them, and more.
posted by crushed at 9:33 AM on March 9, 2001


No surprise, but you gun-nuts just don't get it. I point out the obvious; that guns provide a power trip, that they are so common that they are available to pretty much everyone, that they are used routinely by seemingly more or less normal people who flip over the edge for one reason or another and then discover that they hold in their hands the means for killing the people around them more or less effortlessly. And all you can do is jump up and down squawking "Not me! Not me! I'm not responsible, and anyway I'd never do anything like that..." Well, one of today's headlines from Nando reads:

Two women shot to death outside Tennessee courthouse
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (March 9, 2001 1:26 p.m. EST) - A man shot and killed two women in a parking lot
outside a courthouse Friday after a child-support hearing that did not go his way, police said.

...and you can just bet that if that seemingly decent, ordinary father had participated in this exchange a few months ago, before he went over the edge, he would probably have said exactly what you are saying now. I'm so glad to hear that y'all have no plans or fantasies about killing anybody. Maybe that's true. But how the hell are the rest of us to know?

My kids have expressed fear about the other kids around them (some of them gun-nuts who like to wear camouflage clothing to school), many times over the years. I have a friend who last week spent a day crying at home after a coworker who dislikes her made some offhand remark about owning a gun, during a disciplinary hearing. I work with a gun-nut who reads Patriot literature and builds sniper rifles in his home workshop, and I wonder what he will do when he gets fired for his incompetence.

There are some of us who don't like living in Dodge City. We don't want to arm our children to shoot it out in the playground (as some Libertarians propose--honest to God; I've met those assholes and they weren't joking). We don't want to be constantly looking over our shoulders to see which one of you gun-nuts is going to go over the edge next. We don't want to worry when we send our kids off to school, that they may get shot before the evening. Many of us--the very old and the very young--couldn't defend ourselves against you even if we wanted to.

We are tired of living in fear. That's not the freedom that our Founding Fathers envisaged for us. But that's what you are forcing us to do. By flooding US society with weaponry, you--law-abiding or not--have created a situation where none of us is safe from each other. You have created this situation simply by ensuring that there are so many guns and so much ammunition floating around, available through so many channels and so many loopholes, that anyone can obtain them irrespective of law enforcement efforts. And yet you close your eyes and deny that you have any connection to the problem. Wrong. You *are* a very large part of the problem. You personally may never kill, but yes, you personally are a threat to those around you, whether you admit it or whether they realize it or not--because who knows whether or when you will ever go over the edge? (Don't you realize that everyone who does, would probably have denied that possibility a few months earlier--just as you are doing now?) And even if you never flip, you have empowered the killers. You are the enablers. You are the people who have made it all possible. And hiding behind your reading of the Constitution, hiding behind your apparent sanity, hiding behind your carefully selected statistical data and finely-honed debating tricks, doesn't get you off the hook.

I do not wish you to have in your hands the power of life and death over me, over my spouse, over my children, over anybody around you. Can you really argue with a straight face that that's what the Founding Fathers intended? But that's the personal power that your gun ownership gives you.

PS: By the way, I agree about paintball. I think it's an abomination too. Sorry about that remark...
posted by hal_55 at 1:23 PM on March 9, 2001


I'm sorry hal_55, but if I'm that hard up for a sense of power, I could blow you up easier than I could get a gun. The method is not the issue. If all the guns in the world disappeared tomorrow, something would instantly take their place. Someone would find a new, cheap, effective method of killing, and soon, everyone would have it.
Restricting technology is a hopeless fight, no matter what the tech. It will reappear eventually.
posted by sonofsamiam at 1:28 PM on March 9, 2001


Hal_55: You could always move to Europe, there are more people who agree with you there.
posted by thirteen at 1:33 PM on March 9, 2001


did I hear someone say love it or leave it??!! holy shit seriously?
posted by chrismc at 3:53 PM on March 9, 2001


I do not wish you to have in your hands the power of life and death over me, over my spouse, over my children, over anybody around you.

If I were you, I'd be more worried about people who have demonstrated a willingness to commit violence than about someone who never has, armed or not.

Nevertheless, I understand that legal gun owners make you uncomfortable, and I honestly don't like making other people feel uncomfortable. So I'll make you a deal. If violent crime falls to near-zero, your fear of me will clearly outweigh my need for self-defense, and I'll no longer be able to justify owning a gun. Do you have any practical ideas about how we could make this come about?

So far you've talked mostly about the threat you feel from legal gun owners. Do you have any ideas about how to make me feel less threatened?

And, could you perhaps not use the derogatory term "gun nut," as if everyone who chooses to own a gun is somehow irrationally obsessed with weaponry? My obsessions lie elsewhere.
posted by kindall at 4:49 PM on March 9, 2001


Do you have any practical ideas about how we could make this come about?

how about a gun ban? :D

seriously though, i thought there was pretty conclusive evidence that the gun ban in britain had brought down crime. of course, you can find studies citing everything...
posted by pikachulolita at 7:52 PM on March 9, 2001


love it or leave it
No one told anyone to leave, but if the man is shivering in fear, there are other places where he might feel more comfortable. Think of it as preserving diversity of thought. If he is going to hold his breath until there is the will to amend the constitution, he IS going to fall over dead.
posted by thirteen at 9:22 PM on March 9, 2001


You could always move to Europe, there are more people who agree with you there.

Yeah, gun deaths are a lot rarer there too. Strangely enough, I think they like it that way.

kindall, you are correct that practical ideas for reducing crime involve more than just gun control. But easy access to weaponry is also a part of the problem. Moreover, we're not just talking about hardened criminals being able to buy guns. By accident or by design, even sane rational gun owners sometimes shoot people.
posted by Loudmax at 1:08 AM on March 10, 2001


Yeah, gun deaths are a lot rarer there too.

I think that depends on which part of Europe you are in.
posted by thirteen at 2:44 PM on March 10, 2001


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